Framing and Priming Effects

Exploring Challenges Connected to Cross-Level Approaches in Media Effects Research

Bertram T. Scheufele and Dietram A. Scheufele


This chapter provides an overview of cognitive media effects and processes in the field of political communication. We examine the central role that accessibility-based and applicability-based models, such as priming and framing, have played in refining our understanding of communication effects at different levels of analysis. We then outline the theoretical and methodological challenges of such multi-level or cross-level approaches. In particular, we first present a formal blueprint for a multi-level model of media effects. Based on this overview, we discuss framing and priming effects at the micro-level. Here, we integrate disciplinary literatures especially from psychology and communication, and distinguish the theoretical promises underlying accessibility and applicability based models of media effects. Furthermore, we outline different forms of framing and priming effects on meso- and macro-level units. Finally, the cross-sectional challenges of modeling multi-level media framing and priming effects are discussed.

Priming and Framing – Modern Paradigms of Media Effects

Media effects models have changed considerably over the course of the last century (for an overview, see McQuail, 2005). Magic bullet or hypodermic needle models, assuming that mass media have a strong and direct effect on a largely monolithic ...

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